How small businesses can build email lists: 10 tested tips

How small businesses can build email lists: 10 tested tips

Kim Mercado
By Kim Mercado
Dec 8, 2021
6 min read

Email marketing is an effective and inexpensive way to stay in touch with customers. Consistently providing valuable content helps build trust, so when your subscribers are ready to make a purchase, they're more likely to think of you instead of your competitors.

But before you can start distributing your awesome content, you need a list of people you can send it to. Here are 10 ideas for how to build an email list.

(Or, if you’re new to email marketing, read our quick-start guide to learn the basics.)

1. Start an email newsletter

It's a catch-22, right? How do you send an email newsletter that provides tons of value to your customers and helps you market your small business if you don't have their email addresses? It’s simple. You collect them. 

Create a sign-up box on your website that invites visitors to enter their email address in exchange for your e-newsletter. DIY site builders make it easy to add this functionality in a few simple steps — no coding required.

With email newsletters, consistency is more important than frequency, so don't feel like you have to send a new one every week. Just be sure to show up in your subscribers’ inboxes when you say you will.

2. Create a content download

Don't want to worry about generating topics for a newsletter regularly? Opt for a content download instead. A content download is a single piece of content, such as a checklist, case study, special report, or e-book that you give away when someone provides their email address.

Include a sign-up box on your website just like you would for a newsletter. Choose a topic that resonates with your audience and come up with a killer headline they can't resist to increase the chance they'll download it.

3. Promote your e-newsletter or content downloads on social media

You are promoting your business on social media, right? But just because someone follows you on social media doesn't mean they're on your email list. Promoting your e-newsletter or content downloads on your social channels can help you get more addresses.

4. Create a pop-up

Many website builders have functionality that allows you to easily create pop-ups and choose when and where they show up on your site. Add one that appears after visitors have shown an interest in the content. It could be:

  • An advertisement for a content download related to what they're reading
  • A promotional offer for one of your products or services
  • A survey about the problem they're trying to solve
  • Something else you think they would find valuable

Make it quick and easy. The longer and more complicated the process, the less likely visitors will complete it.

Be sure to give visitors an out if they don't want to sign up. Make it easy for them to close the pop-up and continue reading. That way, they can still get the information they came for.

5. Participate in local events

Participating in local events your target audience attends is a good way to meet prospective customers and collect their email addresses. A sign-up sheet will do in a pinch. But a better option is to bring a tablet with you, so they can enter their information directly.

6. Run a promotion

Everybody likes a deal. You could offer coupons, early access to special promotions or a giveaway if they’re willing to share their email address. Giveaways are especially popular during the holidays, and you can even give people a chance to get more "entries" if they share it on social media. This can help broaden your reach and lead to more sign-ups.

7. Collect addresses at checkout

Have you ever been to a store where the cashier asks for your email address? It's pretty common practice these days, and you should take advantage of this opportunity too. Make it part of your process to ask every person who makes an in-person purchase for their email address at checkout.

If you sell your products and services online, include an opt-in to receive email communications during checkout.

8. Text to join

Sometimes it's easier for people to send a quick text than it is to complete an online form, even if the form only has a few fields. With a text to join service, people can add themselves to your email list by sending a text message to a valid mobile phone number.

You can integrate many text to join platforms with popular email marketing services, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact. But, you’ll have to pay a fee to use the service.

9. Facebook lead ads

Facebook lead ads let you collect information about people who may be interested in your products and services. You can stick with asking for just their name and email address, collect additional demographic data or ask questions to get a better understanding of their pain points to help you target future messaging.

10. Include social sharing buttons

Including social sharing buttons on customer communications makes it easy for customers to share your content with people who may not be on your email list. Every time someone new sees your content is an opportunity for them to subscribe.

Hello, we’re NEXT Insurance

Having a robust email list is the first step to creating an effective email marketing campaign. Gaining subscribers may take time and patience, but it's worth it to build relationships with your customers.

At NEXT, we understand that marketing is just one small part of what you need to do to keep your business running. You have enough things to worry about. Insurance shouldn't be one of them.

That's why we create customized small business insurance packages that offer peace of mind while allowing you to focus on your other responsibilities.

Choose from general liability, workers' compensation, professional liability, tools & equipment, commercial auto and commercial property to get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

With our online application, you can see policy options, rates and purchase coverage — all in less than 10 minutes. As soon as your purchase is complete, you can access your certificate of insurance.

Get started with an instant quote today.

How small businesses can build email lists: 10 tested tips


kim mercado
About the author

Kim Mercado is a content editor at NEXT's blog, where she writes and edits posts for small business owners. She enjoys helping entrepreneurs solve their business challenges and learn about insurance. Kim has contributed to Salesforce, Samsara and Google.

You can find Kim trying new recipes and cheering the 49ers.

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